by Barbara Handelman
This program is for people with impairments, perhaps in wheelchairs, who are using a service dog. Barbara Handelman shows you how to turn that dog into a superb partner and assistant, through your own training.
The program assumes your dog has basic obedience skills – sit, down, come, a retrieve—but it does not assume that you are a clicker trainer. That, she will show you, click by click. Barbara has taken a set of key foundation behaviors and cues that underlie every behavior a service dog can do. She shows you how they are actually shaped, via clicker training. The text is pared down and crystal clear. It's available on a file you can print out, to make an illustrated manual. It's also narrated, in the DVD, for the visually impaired, and written, over the action, for the hearing-impaired.
The program is not broken down by end products, but by skills. Each skill section begins with clips from the first brief training session, then the second, third, fourth, with actual working service dogs being trained by their actual owners. For example we see a dog learning the behavior and the cue 'take,' for picking up, holding, and carrying large objects in its jaws—a dumbbell, a newspaper—and then the behavior and the cue 'pick' for gently picking up a pair of glasses or a credit card with its lips and front teeth. Once the skills and their cues are learned, you can combine, say, 'Pick,' and a previously learned 'Pull,' point at your feet, and the dog can immediately take your socks off..
You can skip around in the DVDs, the program is all broken down into scenes. Go back and forth, or play one scene over and over, to get the timing. Notice, as you do that, how still and calm the teachers are. There are no wasted moves, no dog-confusing chatter. Barbara explains exactly why we are quiet as we train; and exactly why there is no need for correction or reprimands.
In addition to being a great self-teaching course, this program is a lesson in the multi-leveled benefits of clicker-training for developing a happy, reliable, service dog that can continue to learn all its life.
"This is a unique and wonderful program for learning how to clicker train the essential skills that make a good service dog. This course is presented on four video DVDs and includes a downloadable text manual. Each scene includes on-screen script for the hearing impaired, and simultaneous narration for the visually impaired."
— Karen Pryor
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